Thursday, May 26, 2016

3 R's ~ Staying Motivated or Risk A Relapse

Random Resource ThuRsday!! 

3 R's ~ Staying Motivated or Risk A Relapse

I know from experience how easy it is to start down the road to recovery feeling the high of finally being free from a horrible secret and thinking I've got this licked!!  And then wham!!!  Something in life hits us and we run back to old habits, acting out and then going into relapse. 

And from there it is such a downward spiral.  Does anyone else know what I'm talking about here?!?

But that's why programs like a 12 Step Program or Celebrate Recovery have accountability partners as part of the approach.  Most of us just can't do this alone!  And we need someone to help us, encourage us, support us and motivate us.

This week I blogged about the Motivator piece of the recoveryBox iPhone Addiction Recovery App.  There is a good reason that is part of the's to help us stay motivated.  Part of us as a person wants to please people other people.  It's part of being connected in life.  So when using a tool such as recoveryBox, it's important to stay motivated for compliance...because that IS one of the biggest pieces to addiction recovery.  You can't "cheat" here and there.  True recovery is to not return to those habits.

While doing research for recoveryBox, I ran across this article about motivation and it helped me focus on how can recoveryBox app can be part of that motivation.  Thanks Peggy for authoring such a great piece and for really just putting it out there in honest terms. 

(look for another blog post in a few weeks about another feature to recoveryBox that is all about motivation.  It's my favorite piece too!)

Addiction Recovery

Maintain Your Recovery Motivation Or You Will Relapse By Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D.

People often find their way to recovery in the midst of a crisis. Someone standing at the crossroads of recovery, may have been arrested for DUI, may have been fired, or may have received a scary report from the doctor. He may have heard the bottom line demand from his spouse-- "Get help or we are getting a divorce." Or, the alcoholic/addict may in fact, have a moment of clarity and really be able to see that he does have a problem and that help and abstinence are called for. The alcoholic/addict feels afraid. He feels ashamed. He feels angry at others or at himself for being in this position in the first place.

Fear, coercion or crisis helps him find his way into recovery. Fear is a fairly good short term motivator, but not so good in the long run. Once the fear subsides and the crisis is over, it is very easy to lose your motivation and momentum. At the point where the cycle of addiction is interrupted by failing to take the next drink, dose, or joint, there is a lot of tension, anxiety, and mindfulness of where you are in the process. Detox or withdrawal may occur, with physical and/or emotional symptoms being very consciously experienced.

When you get to feeling better physically and emotionally after detoxing, it is easy to lose your momentum. Your focus on recovery can dissolve. Some of the problems that once motivated your recovery might be resolved now. Because you have quit drinking or using, your spouse and kids are once again speaking to you and are in the process of forgiving you. You may have even won back some trust. Everything seems to be going well.

Under these circumstances it is quite easy for you to take your eyes off the target and lose your focus on recovery. Erroneously, you may believe that your abstinence is not so fragile now. Feeling better, you may think you have it "whipped".

Without actively focusing on your continuing abstinence and recovery, your behavior can begin to drift away from the newly instituted behavioral changes that you have made. You run the risk of returning to old thinking, old feelings, and then ultimately old behavior. The reason why this would happen is that you are not consciously taking steps to continue on a path of recovery. This path involves many changes in your behavior and in your life style. Without making conscious choices in regard to how each decision affects your new recovery life or your old addiction life, you are unconsciously choosing your old life. Choosing recovery is not like jump starting your damaged car battery where once you get it started, it recharges itself as run it. You have to continuously work a program of recovery. Without doing so, your efforts will be short- lived.

You will quit going to counseling. You will quit going to meetings. You will have stopped calling your recovery support people. Your defenses will go back up and you may take exception to the feedback of significant others who tell you that you are acting like you used to before recovery.

You won't be able to see that you are on the road to relapse. You won't be able to understand why they are concerned. You won't be able to identify the behavioral changes that scare them because you will be back in denial. Being around old drinking/using environments and friends don't scare you. You can't understand why it would scare your significant others. After all, you told them that you are not going to relapse. You have learned your lesson. What more do they want?

After awhile, you will begin to think that you have your drinking or using under control now. When you think of addiction as a thing of the past, that you now have it under control, you will begin to entertain the notion that you can now drink or use without negative consequences. If any of this sounds like your recent experience, you are in big trouble. You are in the relapse process and unless you do something now, you will relapse--and soon.

Copyright 2009, Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D., Hubbard House Publishing, Stillwater, OK. 

Download recoveryBox, Addiction Recovery App - Your Complete Sobriety Toolbox

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Random Resource ThuRsday - So I shouldn't Go "There". Now What?

This week I wrote about how just being at a location is dangerous to the undoing of our sobriety. I found a wonderful resource that talks about this and a lot more.  In this document are tons on strategies to fight the addiction.  Take a look.

For more from this recovery website, visit

Below is the section from the resource that deals with Being at the Place (the Y2) and strategies.
I am glad the author put this trigger at the top of the list.  It's why I have the Person of Risk as the Y1 and the Place as the Y2 Yellow Lights.  Warning!!  Warning!!  Use Caution here!

Relapse Trigger #1: Putting Yourself In Difficult Situations Like Visiting Your Favorite Bar Or Hanging Out With Friends Who Are Still Using

Perhaps the most difficult part of recovery is leaving behind old friends or old habits that got us into trouble in the first place. Even if we are committed to staying away from your previous group of friends or hangouts, if we don’t change our habits and interests, we can quickly find yourself with a new group of friends or hangout spots that are just as damaging to our recovery process.
Relapse Prevention Action Plan:
  • Find alternative places to hang out like a local bookstore or coffee shop.
  • Choose companions who seek a healthy lifestyle.
  • Go to a recovery based meeting. 
I really do encourage you to read the rest of the pdf file.  It is loaded with strategies to help in your addiction recovery.

To download recoveryBox,visit the Apple App Store.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Serenity Prayer ~ the history behind it

I was curious about the history behind this beautiful prayer and did a little research. Read below or click this link for the article.
The Serenity Prayer is the common name for an untitled prayer originally written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in the late1930s to early 1940s. It is believed that Niebuhr wrote the prayer for a sermon.
Elisabeth Sifton's book entitled The Serenity Prayer, which was published in 2003,,quotes this version as the authentic original:
"God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."
The earliest verifiable texts so far discovered are an approximate version, apparently quoted from memory, in a query in the in The New York Times Book Review dated July 12, 1942 which asks for the author of the quotation; a reply in the same column issued on August 2, 1942 states the quotation is attributed to Niebuhr and an unidentified printed text is quoted as follows:
"O God and Heavenly Father,
Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; the courage to change that which can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."
The serenity prayer became widely known when it was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous; In 1950, the AA Grapevine, an AA magazine, identified Niebuhr as the author and the current AA web site continues to identify Niebuhr as the author.
The serenity prayer is reported to have been in use in Alcoholics Anonymous since the early 1940s. It has also been used in Narcotics Anonymous and other Twelve-step programs.. The Alcoholics Anonymous version of the serenity prayer omits some of Niebuhr's text:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and (the) wisdom to know the difference."
Niebuhr discusses the Serenity Prayer and how it came about it in his book, The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses. He states,
"... The embarrassment, particularly, was occasioned by the incessant correspondence about a prayer I had composed years before, which the old Federal Council of Churches had used and which later was printed on small cards to give to soldiers. Subsequently Alcoholics Anonymous adopted it as its official prayer. The prayer reads: 'God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to dintinguish the one from the other.' ..."
In addition, Niebuhr's daughter, Elisabeth Sifton, wrote an entire book about her father's serenity prayer, The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War, that explores the circumstances around which her father wrote this prayer, the wide range of versions of this prayer, and the real essence of the prayer's meaning.

Article Source:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why Is It So Damn Hard to Change?

Random Resource ThuRsday

This week I blogged about knowing the what's and why's that lead to your acting out.. and that you have to have data to understand your habits. Knowing your triggers is key to breaking an addiction.   When we act on our triggers, we are just reinforcing our trigger/behavior/reaction mechanism. 

Oprah is not where I normally get information for sharing but I thought this was a great article that talks about dopamine ..  you know the chemical released in your body when you do an acting-out behavior.  I cropped out a small portion for you to read but I urge you to read the rest.

Why Is It So Damn Hard to Change?

Read more:

Photo: Hugh Kretschmer
Dopamine teaches your brain what you want, then drives you to get it, regardless of what's good for you. It does this in two steps. First you experience something that gives you pleasure (say, McDonald's french fries), which causes a dopamine surge. Some of that dopamine travels to the area of your brain where memories are formed and creates a memory connecting those fries with getting a reward. At that point, in sciencespeak, the fries have become "salient." And when you're exposed to something that's salient, you may think, "That's bad for me, I shouldn't,"  but your brain registers, "Dopamine jackpot!" 

Which is where step two comes in: On top of creating memories, dopamine controls the areas of the brain responsible for desire, decision-making, and motivation. So once fries become salient, the next time you see or smell them, your brain releases a surge of dopamine that drives you to get more fries. When you succeed, your brain produces more dopamine, which reinforces the memory that made fries salient in the first place, etching it further into your brain. It's a never-ending cycle: The more you do something that's rewarding, the more dopamine makes sure you do it again. This is precisely how habits form. Eventually, if the fries become salient enough, your brain will release dopamine and push you to get fries anytime you see the colors yellow and red, even if you're nowhere near McDonald's.

And this is true for any behavior that results in a reward: Orgasms cause dopamine surges. So does hitting the jackpot when you gamble, winning a race, acing a test, doing cocaine or methamphetamines, smoking, drinking. "Dopamine is motivation," 


But my big question for Volkow is this: How do you get yourself hooked on something that's not inherently pleasurable to you—like living on salads and broccoli or, in my case, exercising? Many people get a natural high from working out. I, however, am not one of them. "Isn't there some way to trick the dopamine system?" I ask her. "Some way to fool my brain into craving exercise?"

Sure, she says: The secret is thinking up rewards. My payoff for working out could be a pedicure or a new pair of shoes. For someone trying to diet: Maybe you get a massage after a week of good eating, or have a friend dole out gift certificates if you stay on track (you pay, but she controls the vouchers). "Giving yourself rewards for a behavior engages the dopamine system so your brain will associate the positive outcome with it, which will help you form the habit."

Read more:

Well, I wish I could reward all the recoveryBox users with something great to help retrain our brains..but hopefully when you earn your badges, that will give you a small sense of accomplishment.

For more information about recoveryBox, visit the website and see if it's an app that might be helpful in your recovery from your addiction.